In Toronto the Economy Ministers of the 34 American countries working for the creation of a Free Trade of the Americas association ended their meeting with a release committing themselves to promote social policies and combat poverty, but in Buenos Aires the different groups discussing the mechanics of the future association remain split in two main sides.
With just a few weeks before the Quebec, Canada, presidential summit and first meeting of regional leaders with new US president George W. Bush, the controversy over the Free Trade Association of the Americas remains as strong as ever. On one side United States, Canada and Chile who want to speed the timetable for the creation of the free trade area, and on the other, the more cautious Mercosur and Andean Community who insist on two controversial issues, market access and agriculture. The original timetable for the conclusion of the all Americas free trade association discussions is 2005, however the Americans together with Canada and Chile are pressing for 2003. Brazil that leads those who prefer keeping to the original timetable, 2005, argue that the meeting in Buenos Aires is to discuss instructions and procedures for the next round of talks, and precisely the date to begin discussing "market access" has become the stumbling stone. Mercosur and the Andean Community stress that to keep talks advancing there must be a commitment from the United States to modify non tariff trade distorting legislation such as subsidy and anti dumping regulations. Some kind of middle ground agreement is expected over the weekend.